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Diversa Notariae (Various documents of the Public Notary)

  • HR-DADU-09
  • Fonds
  • 1310-1320, 1324-1330, 1339-1341, 1352-1358, 1362-1369, 1387-1391, 1402-1462, 1485-1530, 1533-1559, 1563-1683, 1687-1811

The fonds provides general information on political, economic, cultural, public, and private life in the Republic for the period from the beginning of the 14th to the beginning of the 19th century. According to the division of administrative affairs, notaries recorded private-law contracts, such as debit notes, dowry contracts, purchase contracts, powers of attorney, wills, agrarian contracts. However, the fonds also contains documents of a public-legal character for which the Chancellery was in charge.

The fonds is very important for the research of the history of the Jewish people. It provides data on business and private connections of Jews in Europe, mostly southeast, then North Africa and the Middle East, in the period from the 15th to the beginning of the 19th century. The earliest references are from the beginning of the 15th century. For example, in 1405, Simon, a coral merchant, son of Isaac of Marseille, was referenced as one of the first, perhaps even the first Jew to live in Dubrovnik for several years (vol. 11, f. 116). Among the most important documents in the fonds, four contracts can be found in which Gracia Mendes terminated business relations with her Italian partners. In 1552, Mendes had these contracts registered with the Dubrovnik Public Notary Office. These are the only documents that can serve as a proof that she stopped in Dubrovnik on her way to Istanbul (vol. 112, ff. 90-91v, 93v-94v). Until her death, her representative in Dubrovnik was Isac Ergas, so he himself, as well as some members of his family, were referenced several times in the books of this fonds. The data on other well-known figures of that time such as Daniel Rodrigues, Solomon Ascenasi, Solomon Oef (Ohev), Aaron Coen, David Pass (Passo), Abraham and Jacob Coen de Hererra. Many members of large Dubrovnik Jewish families of Ambonetti, Campos, Fermo, Levi Mandolfo, Luzzena, Maestro, Pardo, Russo, Terni, Tolentino, Valenzin, Vitali are also frequently referenced. In addition, there are many references to Jews who either stayed in Dubrovnik for a very short time, or who only passed through it. Some of them never actually came to Dubrovnik but did business through Dubrovnik with the help of their intermediaries. Overall, the fonds preserves sales contracts, powers of attorney, debt contracts, maritime insurance contracts, receipts and disbursements, waivers of inheritance rights, exercise of rights acquired by will, settlement of trade and other disputes in which Jews also appear as both: parties to the dispute and as arbitrators. Only one will is registered in the fonds, and it was composed by the Benevenisti Nasci, who was sentenced to death in 1571 for the murder of Menachem Maraz (vol. 118 ff. 114-115). Italian translations of two ketubahs made in Dubrovnik in 1763 and 1769 were also registered in notarial books 25 years later (vol. 146, ff. 28-29, 81v-83v).

Public Notary of the Dubrovnik Republic

Debita Notariae (Debts registered with the Public Notary)

The series mainly contains data on commercial credits, which were registered in the period from the end of the 13th to the beginning of the 19th century. The records include date of the credit agreement, name of the creditor, name of the borrower, amount of the credit, duration of the credit, and contractual clauses of the credit agreement. The interest amount is not entered. Those who wanted to take a loan and did not reside in the Republic, and still wanted to register the credit agreement at the Public Notary of the Republic, could do this through their legal representative.

The series is very important for researching business transactions of Jewish people in the Balkans and the Mediterranean, as well as for a possible historical reconstruction of their commercial network, especially since the period of the early 70s of the 16th centuries, when the Jewish population in Dubrovnik significantly increased. Some well-known and very prominent members of the local Jewish community are referenced to in the series, such as Aron Coen and Abraham Coen de Herrera (i.e., vol. 96, f. 20v). In general, the series refers to members of the Dubrovnik Jewish community such as Abenun, Coen, Danon, Lanciano, Maestro, Miranda, Oef. Some Jews who were referenced did not live in Dubrovnik, but, overall, all Jews who are referenced in the documents occur in both functions: as creditors and as borrowers. In an attempt to better understand the significance of this series for the overall history of the Sephardim, it is advisable to refer to the doctoral thesis of Benedetto Ligorio (Roma, Sapienza, 2017), in which the author analysed the existing archival data on credits referencing the Jewish population between 1560 and 1654. The analysis of Ligorio provides relevant data that prove that in most of these documents Christians (primarily Dubrovnik noblemen) were stated as creditors for Jewish people.

Debita Notariae pro Comuni (Debts to the Dubrovnik commune registered at the Public Notary)

The series contains data on various debts and other types of obligations of individual citizens towards the Republic, which were registered in the period from the middle of the 15th to the beginning of the 17th century.

The only reference to Jewish people in this fonds dates to 1503. Benedict Levi, Aron Alemanus and Abraham Alemanus confirmed in this document that they had received 126 and 3/4 of gold Venetian ducats from the Rector of the Dubrovnik Republic and the Minor Council as the equivalent of 130 ducats (gold coins) they had previously lent to the Dubrovnik archbishop John (de Sacchis) (vol. 1, f. 110).

Aptai de misericordia; Aptagi de misericordia (Promissory notes of mercy)

Aptai de misericordia is a very interesting institution of law that is specific to the Dubrovnik Republic. References to Aptai can already be found in 1272, in the Dubrovnik Statute. The term itself stands for a specific tribunal fee collected by the Rector. Later, the meaning of the term itself changed and aptai started to indicate a civil court proceeding in which that fee had to be paid. Finally, in the second half of the 14th century, the term aptai started to stand for a mode or process that was used to ensure the fulfilment of the debtor's obligation. That obligation was made, i.e., signed in the Chancellery, and it became official after the expiration of the deadline entered in the document. Based on the evidence, it is therefore clear that the entries in the books of the Aptai de misericordia had the power of a judgment and that there was no need to pursue further legal action against the debtor. The entries contain the following information: name and surname of the donor of the charity promissory note, name and surname of the recipient of the charity promissory note, and payment deadline. Valuable items nominated by the borrower to be mortgaged were also sometimes indicated, together with the details of instalment payments. In the margin, along with singular entries, data on debt repayment, were specified. Most of the records in this series follow this model: Jacobus d'Abram Pardo hebreus dedit aptaii de misericordia supra Vitum Michaelis, Andream Pasqualis Vuchotich, et Demetrium Mihailovich calceolarius presentibus simul et in solidum de ducati sexaquinta de g. totius summae (vol. 4, f. 14).

The series gives relevant data for the research of credit transactions of Dubrovnik Jews, who mostly are referenced in the documents of the series as donors, or providers of charity. All the Jews referenced to in this series were permanent residents of Dubrovnik. The first references to their names in the documents date to the end of the 16th century, and many more Jewish names can be found in the documents since the middle of the 17th century. The names of some members of Jewish families such as Abeatar, Abenun, Amadio, Azubi, Coen, Danon, Franco, Israel, Maestro, Oef (Ohev) and Tobi were recorded. Some of them very often cited as creditors, or those who lent money, and the names of Solomon Maestro, and a well-known Dubrovnik merchant Raphael Coen especially stand out among those names. Other Jews that should also be pointed out for their importance are two brothers: Jacob Coen de Herrera (Martin de Marchena), a brother of a famous Jew Abraham Coen de Herrera (Allonso Nuñes de Herrera). The records show also references to other Jewish people of that time, such as: Ambonetti, Ascoli, Asser, Baraffael, Bueno, Cagli, Campos, Coen, Costantini, Forte, Gaon, Levi, Levi Mandolfo, Luzzena, Maestro, Nachas, Navarro, Pappo, Pardo, Russi, Saralvo, Terni, Tolentino, Valenzin, Vitali.

Procurae Notariae; Procure de Notaria (Notarized Powers of Attorney)

  • HR-DADU-11
  • Fonds
  • 1434-1439, 1446-1449, 1459-1463, 1467-1497, 1502-1569, 1573-1590, 1592-1595, 1600-1602, 1607-1814

The fonds contains various types of powers of attorney registered in the period from the 15th to the beginning of the 19th centuries, in which, in addition to citizens of the Republic of Dubrovnik other non-resident citizens are also referenced, either in the roles of proxies or principals. The content of these documents was mainly related to various types of business activities conducted both in Dubrovnik and in foreign countries.

The fonds is very important for the historical reconstruction of the Jewish business network in the Mediterranean and in the Balkans. The references in the fonds provide information on Jews who lived not only in the Dubrovnik Republic but also in other countries, mainly in the countries of the Ottoman Empire and the countries of the Apennine Peninsula (most often in the Italian cities of Ancona and Venice). The content of these powers of attorney mainly relate to collection of debts, conduct of commercial affairs, representation in court, and out-of-court settlements of commercial disputes. According to the data in the fonds, Jews would mostly choose other Jews as their legal representatives and would seldom choose Catholics in this role. One of the exceptions is Jacob Tobi, who in 1594 authorized a famous Florentine merchant Bartolomeo Borgiani to conduct business on his behalf in Florence (vol. 31, ff. 104, 104v). Jewish people are referenced less in this fonds than in similar fonds Procurae di Cancellaria (HR-DADU-17). The most relevant difference between these fonds is that there is very scarce data on Jewish women in this fonds. Among the women referenced to in this fonds, for example, there is a reference to Mira, the widow of Moshe Alfandrino, who in 1585 authorized Moshe Malamed to collect debts in Sarajevo that remained unpaid after the death of her son Jacob (vol. 28, ff. 106v, 107). Another woman referenced in the fonds is Simha, the wife of Samuel Maestro. In 1613, with the permission of her guardians Jacob Coen de Herrera and David Senior, she authorized her husband to conduct all her business affairs on her behalf (vol. 34, ff. 132, 132v). Apart from Jacob Coen de Herrera, his brother Abraham Coen de Herrera is also referenced to in this fonds (vol. 33, f. 187, 187v). Some members of other Jeiwish families such as Abeatar, Abenun, Abenmelech, Abuaf, Azubi, Baruch, Bencastiel, Bendanon, Calderon, Calvo, Cidi, Cohen, Gaon, Graciano, Israel, Jeshurun, Lanciano, Luzzena, Maestro, Miranda, Mursa, Sasson, and Sarfatin are also referenced to in the fonds.

Public Notary of the Dubrovnik Republic

Testamenta Notariae; Testamenta de Notaria (Wills registered at the Public Notary)

The series consists of wills of citizens, i.e., residents of the Dubrovnik Republic, as well as the wills of non-residents of the Republic, in the period from the end of the 13th to the beginning of the 19th century. The series is a very important archival source for both researchers of the legal history of Jewish people and for those who research the history of their everyday life and daily routines.

Approximately 20 wills of Jewish people have been preserved in the records of the State Archives in Dubrovnik, dating from the 16th to the 18th century. Out of this number, 16 wills were recorded in this series, and the names of the testators indicate some prominent and famous persons such as Didacus Pyrrhus (vol. 51, ff. 27v-28v), Aron Cohen, a famous rabbi of the 17th century (vol. 55, ff. 164v-166) and his descendant Raphael Cohen, a distinguished merchant and benefactor (vol. 74, ff. 66-67). The wills of Abram Abinun (vol. 59, f. 33v; 1628), Nathan Ambonetti (vol. 87, ff. 67v, 68), Rica Barrafael (vol. 80, f. 149v), Moshe Calderon (vol. 43, ff. 182, 182v), Abram Campos (vol. 66, f. 33v), Isac Vita Campos (vol. 81, f. 33v), Joseph Esperiel (vol. 55, ff. 21-22), Ester Maccioro (vol. 63, ff. 94v-95v), Ester Maestro, the wife of Moshe (vol. 58, ff. 168, 168v), Ester Maestro, the wife of Solomon (vol. 78, ff. 62, 62v), Solomon Pardo (vol. 84, ff. 129v), Decora de Silva (vol. 72, ff. 39, 39v) and Bona Vitali (vol. 81, ff. 49v, 50). The remaining wills are in the fonds of Diversa Notariae (HR-DADU-9), Diversa Cancellariae (HR-DADU-15), Diversa et possessio de criminalibus (HR-DADU-24), Miscellanea (HR-DADU-61) and in the series Diversa de Foris (HR-DADU-30.2). Most wills have been published.

Tutores Notariae (Legal guardians in the execution of wills registered with the Public Notary)

The series consists of registers in which, during the period from the 15th to the beginning of the 19th century, the names of legal guardians were entered, most often for women (usually widowed) and minor children. The data show that the guardians referenced to in the files would not represent those women and children only in the execution of wills. Since this is one of few series where references on women and minor children can be found, it is very useful to researchers because it provides valuable data for the genealogical reconstruction of Jewish families in Dubrovnik. Most often the records reference to women and children from some Dubrovnik Jewish families such as Abuaf, Campos, Cohen, Levi Mandolfo, Luzzena, Maestro, Pappo, Pardo, Penso, Terni, Tolentino, Valenzin. The guardians of Jewish women and minor children were usually Dubrovnik Jews. According to the data, a Jewish woman, or a Jewish minor, could have between one to three legal guardians. Guardians belonged sometimes to Dubrovnik nobility, particularly in cases where they would actually serve as lawyers. Occasionally, other Dubrovnik citizens would also appear in these documents in the role of guardians of Jewish women and children. The series is closely related to the decisions of the Minor Council (Acta Minoris Consilii HR-DADU-4.1). More precisely, the proposal would be first accepted by the Minor Council, i.e., the permission would be given to a woman (most often a widow) to perform a certain job with the permission of her legal guardian. The name of the guardian would be then entered in the registers of this notarial series most often on the same day. If the Minor Council issued a permit to a woman to appoint, with a prior consent of her guardian, a person to represent her in the conduction of her business in the Republic or in any other state, this information would be then entered in the registers of the Procurae di Cancellaria (HR-DADU-17). This is another indicator of overlapping competencies of the Public Notary and the Chancellery. For example, on May 6, 1793, according to the data, the Minor Council allowed Rachel, the widow of David Luzzena, to appoint, with the permission of her guardian, a person to represent her in all her business affairs (HR-DADU-4.1, Acta Minoris Consilii, vol. 110, f 83). On the same day, the names of her guardians, a nobleman Antun Caboga and a citizen Petar Čingrija, were entered in the books of this series (vol. 13, f. 19c). A day later, in the books of Procure di Cancellaria, it was registered that Rachel Luzzena, with the permission of her guardians, appointed her son Samuel as her representative, or, legally, as her alter ego (HR-DADU-17, vol. 82, ff. 158v, 159).

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